Thursday, December 18, 2014

More Fun Times in Malawi

A lot happened both yesterday and today. Yesterday morning we got in the van we have been riding all around both Blantyre and Kumponda and traveled to a community that had already had an irrigation system installed. When we arrived we found a small river had been dammed with two HDPE pipes coming out that traveled about a quarter mile along the river through trenches dug to keep the slope of the pipe slightly downwards which in some cases were cut up to 10 feet deep. These pipes eventually led to a brick channel that was able to flood irrigate a couple acre fields.

After taking notes and asking questions about the irrigation systems we went back to the apartment and I had a wholesome lunch of Fanta, ramen, and a whole bag of Puffs; a snack similar to cheese puffs which, if the bag is to be believed: "they are magical". After I woke up from a food coma Daniel came over to ask about our day. Afterwards we had an interesting conversation about the organization of Malawi politics. It turns out that the elected government is only half the story in Malawi. There is also a whole chief structure that reaches to the regional level. Any decision made by the federal government must also be approved by the TAs, or traditional authorities of a region. These traditional authorities are the biggest chiefs in a given area. There are five TAs in Blantyre who have the final say in large projects around the city. Below the TAs are several Group Chiefs. These group chiefs control the land of large areas of the countryside that contain many villages. Thought this trip we have been working closely with the chief of Group Komponda. Below the Group Chief are several committee members and smaller village chiefs who all hold authority of individual villages. Each chief is able to sell or designate all the land he controls and also acts as the judge for the people he rules over.

After this thought provoking conversation we decided tonight would be a good night to try and eat out. We decided to pay a visit to a local restaurant just down the street that none of us knew anything about except for the name; 'Al Pachino's'. Intrigued by this we walked in to find a swanky dining room and bar with live music playing and waiters dressed with a slight resemblance to 40s mobsters, fedora included. Impressed by all this we sat down and asked for the menus. The restaurant served food that ranged from burgers to steak to grilled crocodile and had our mouths watering. An even bigger surprise occurred when we looked at the prices. The most expensive thing on the menu was about 1500 Kwatcha, or 3 dollars. Noting this we all ordered a couple things from the menu and had a feast trying all of the different dishes.

We hope to do some surveying in the next couple of days and we may be traveling to Lake Malawi this weekend to do some sight seeing.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome to hear from you all! Glad you're enjoying yourselves and making progress!